Health Points: Friday

  • Personally I don’t put much stake in the Body Mass Index, but in case you’re interested, Abby Ellin of The New York Times reports on its growing popularity:
“Our society is really fixated on numbers, and the problem is when it comes to weight distribution and the risk for heart disease, it’s not just one number — it’s the percentage of body fat, B.M.I. and waist size that matters,” said Dr. Nieca Goldberg, a cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan.
Dieting will be with us for a long time to come, and so will a plethora of popular diets. My hope is that the popular diets today (many of which have useful nutritional advice) will not just be used as a brief attempt at a quick fix - but that the good principles of nutrition will be taken to heart.
A review of nearly 2,000 3-year-old, low-income children and their mothers found that one-third of white and black children were overweight or obese, while a stunning 44 percent of Latino children fell into those categories.
  • Fast Weight Loss offers up some pretty basic diet tips. I’m not sure Dr. Fuhrman would agree with all of them, but here are a few that seem okay:
    5. Give some time to exercise. It is not going to take hours to exercise. What you have to do is give 30 or 40 minute to exercise.

    6. Avoid drinking soda as much as you can and replace that by water.

    7. Avoid breads, cereals and pasta in your food.
  • Next time you’ve got aches and pains you might want to reach for the spice-rack. At least that seems to be the message of this CNN report. More from Amy Paturel:
Turmeric: Because rates of Alzheimer's disease are lower in India, where the population eats a diet containing more turmeric than Western diets, scientists have suggested the spice may be linked to preserving mental function. "The compounds in turmeric have demonstrated antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cholesterol-lowering properties -- all thought to be involved in the onset of Alzheimer's disease," says Sally Frautschy, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine and neurology at UCLA.
Lots of craziness and hilarity at work these last few nights. Christmas night wasn’t horrible, but it was busier than I expected. At least the holiday kept the violence down… until 0016, when there was a shooting two miles from the hospital and we got two really bad gunshot wounds in as traumas… It was sort of a nice, “well, it’s not Christmas anymore” moment… Not Norman Rockwell, exactly…
Inside a recent issue: an interview with pro volleyball player Kerri Walsh, stories on flag football and kids' cross-country running, and step-by-step photos that demonstrate how to do five morning exercises, such as squats and shoulder rotations. There are also articles on how to pick a healthy lunch at school, study smarter and snack right.
Researchers from George Washington University tested a vegan diet and the ADA-recommended diet to see which worked best in the management of diabetes, kidney function, cholesterol levels and weight loss. Around 100 adults diagnosed with type 2 diabetes participated, with half following a low-fat vegan diet and half following the ADA-recommended guidelines. Overweight ADA dieters were also advised to reduce their calorie intake by 500-1,000 calories. According to experts, one small risk associated with a vegan diet is a lack of vitamin B12, so the vegan participants’ meals were supplemented with B12 vitamins.

Thursday Health Points: Blogs Only

So please forgive me if I come into the consulting room with a couple of smudges on my lips, a tighter white coat, overpowering chocolate breath, and giddy with sugar and a sense of well-being.
We compared USDA data for the average "large" US farm - defined as a farm with over $250,000 of income. The USDA says there are 151,000 large farms in the US - this makes up 7% of all the farms, but 59% of all farm production. That means a small number of big farms are growing most of our food.
Sometimes men and women alter their physiques and appearance to please others. Sometimes they change it to spite those who've rejected them. If you don't have enough self-respect to like who you are and how you look, do things to build up your own self-esteem until you get to the point where you like who you are or are motivated to become the person you'd like to be.
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS), an intense sweetener used in a vast and diverse array of food products, has been labeled the Devil’s candy and a sinister invention by the American media. A widely publicized book in the US, Fat Land, by the journalist Greg Critser, along with scientific research, proposes that its consumption is to blame for America’s obesity epidemic, while Juan Zapata, a Republican in the Florida House of Representatives, calls HFCS the crack of sweeteners and wants it banned.
The ancient Romans grew and cooked parsnips to make broths and stews. Throughout the Dark Ages and early Middle Ages, parsnips were the main starchy vegetable for ordinary people. Parsnips were easy to grow and provided a good source of starch during the lean winter months. They were also valued for their sugar content. Sweet parsnip dishes like jam and desserts became part of traditional English cookery, and they were used for making beer and wine. Today parsnip wine is still one of the most popular of the country wines in England.
Angelina Jolie recently returned with her adopted son Maddox to his homeland of Cambodia, and while there she fed him a local delicacy: a plate full of crickets, with their guts intact. Angelina told reporters, "I recently took Mad to Cambodia and it was the first trip there where he really understood it. We took him to a restaurant in the middle of the night and he had his first plate of crickets."
Insulin resistance, abdominal obesity, hypertension, high triglycerides, low HDL (good) cholesterol levels: a cluster of traits typically referred to as Metabolic Syndrome. All are known to be indicators of diabetes and heart disease in adults. What has recently been discovered, however, is that these same traits are also on the rise in adolescents.
I don't understand it. I'm not sure I want to. I just want people to respect the fact that someone having a bigger crisis than them may be in the bed next to them. And I may be needed more over there. I probably won't respond quickly to you if you scream at me to get your pain medicine. I will be busy with the man next door who is passing from this world. His problem supercedes yours. Your pain may last longer - but you'll still be alive at the end of it. He won't.

The War on Childhood Obesity

You can’t escape obesity—obesity news that it is. It’s everywhere! Almost everyday obesity-related information bombards the headlines, but imagine being a doctor, imagine being on the frontlines of the epidemic. Reuters reporter Lisa Baertlein tells the tale of one such doctor, and what she is doing to combat the problem:
Los Angeles pediatrician Francine Kaufman is on the front lines of the childhood obesity epidemic, which has flooded her office with diabetes patients and put kids at risk of adult health problems…

… The pediatric endocrine group at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles had 250 to 300 patients when Kaufman started in the late 1970s. The patient roster has since expanded 2,000-plus.
Dr. Kaufman also wrote a book entitled Diabesity in which she encourages parents to realize that avoiding obesity and diabetes is about the whole family becoming health conscious and committed to helping. Sound like someone else we know? Check out this excerpt from Dr. Fuhrman’s Disease-Proof Your Child:
No rules only for children. If the parents are not willing to follow the rules set for the house, they should not be imposed on the children. Don’t argue about what your children should and shouldn’t be eating; discuss this in private. As parents, we must be consistent, but not perfect. Likewise, it is okay for the children to be consistent, but not prefer either. For example, if the parents decide that an unhealthy food or a restaurant meal is acceptable for the children once per week, then that goes for the adults, too. Setting an example supported by both parents is the most important and most effective way for your children to develop a healthy attitude toward food.

Understanding the Development of Type 2 Diabetes

From the September 2003 edition of Dr. Fuhrman's Healthy Times:

The heavier you are, the greater your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. For certain susceptible individuals, even a moderate amount of excess fat on the body can trigger diabetes.

Your body's cells are fueled by glucose. When you have excess fat on your body, the extra coating of fat around your cells makes it difficult for the hormone insulin to transport glucose into the cells. To overcome this problem, your body produces additional insulin, which is manufactured by your pancreas. Adult diabetes is a disease of insulin resistance, not one of insulin deficiency.

Dangerous weight gain

As little as five pounds of excess fat on your frame can inhibit the ability of insulin to carry glucose into your cells. When you have twenty pounds of extra fat, your pancreas may be forced to produce twice as much insulin. With fifty or more pounds of excess fat on your frame, your pancreas may be forced to produce six to ten times more insulin than a person who is lean.

What do you think occurs after ten or twenty years of overworking the pancreas? That's right, it becomes exhausted and loses the ability to keep up with the huge insulin demands. As time goes on, even though your overworked pancreas may still pump out much more insulin than a thinner person might need, it won't be enough to overcome the effects of your disease-causing body fat.

The pancreas's ability to secrete insulin continues to diminish as the diabetes and the overweight condition continue year after year. Unlike with type 1 (childhood onset) diabetes, total destruction of insulin-secreting ability almost never occurs in type 2 (adult onset) diabetes. But the sooner a type 2 diabetic loses the extra weight causing her diabetes, the greater the likelihood that she will be able to maintain a functional reserve of insulin-secreting cells in her pancreas.

Taking insulin dangerous for type 2 diabetics
The damage caused by higher than normal insulin production (as a result of excess body fat) begins years before a person is diagnosed as being diabetic. Excess insulin promotes atherosclerosis, which in turn leads eventually to heart attacks and strokes.

Findings from numerous studies have shown that hyper-insulinemia promotes atherosclerosis even in non-diabetics. In diabetics, the effects of excess insulin are even worse. In a study of 154 treated diabetics, the prevalence of blood vessel disease was greatest in those with the highest levels of insulin. It made no difference whether the insulin was endogenous (self-produced) or exogenous (taken by injection).

Quite a few studies illustrate the dangers of giving insulin to adult diabetics. When these patients are given insulin—compared with those given metaformin (Glucophage)—the risk of death from heart attacks tripled.1

Additional problems
When you give an adult diabetic who has been suffering from the damaging effects of excess insulin for years more insulin to drive her sugar level down, you create additional problems. Giving the diabetic patient insulin increases appetite, which causes significant weight gain (often more than 20 pounds), which makes the patient more diabetic. Thus, the administration of insulin creates a vicious cycle that cuts years off a person's life.

Exposure to insulin in injectable form can create a blood vessel wall injury that is an early step in the formation of atherosclerotic lesions. Insulin both blocks cholesterol removal and delivers cholesterol to cells in the blood vessel walls, accelerating the creation of atherosclerotic plaque. Simply put, it increases the risk of cardiac death. Almost 80 percent of all deaths among diabetics are due to atherosclerosis, particularly coronary artery disease.

Since the level of insulin in your blood is a good predictor of your risk for heart attack, and since a tape measure around your waist is nearly as good a predictor of insulin levels, it makes sense to remember the ancient saying, "The longer your waistline, the shorter your lifeline."

Although an elevated cholesterol increases mortality somewhat in the non-diabetic, a diabetic's risk for death increases fivefold for each twenty points that cholesterol is elevated above normal. The bottom line is this: if you have diabetes or know anyone with diabetes, they must get rid of their diabetes and not merely "manage it." Do not rely on standard drug methods of treating diabetes, especially injecting more insulin. An aggressive approach based on nutritional excellence is the only effective way to reverse this dangerous condition.

A tough situation
Conventional diabetologists are in a bind. They know that high glucose levels accelerate aging of the eyes and kidneys, leading to devastating complications such as kidney failure and blindness. They want to prescribe aggressive insulin therapy to get patients' blood sugars down. The problem is they also are aware that the extra insulin accelerates atherosclerosis (which leads to heart attacks) and weight gain (which eventually makes patients more diabetic).

Tightening blood sugar control with insulin is risky business. Diabetologists engaging in this conventional medical practice are endangering their patient's lives. The risks are so great, I consider it malpractice to start giving insulin to type 2 diabetics without offering the option of treatment utilizing nutritional excellence.

Dangerous advice
The American Diabetes Association and most dieticians and physicians offer dangerous advice to the diabetic. They give lip service to weight reduction and cholesterol lowering, but since the diets they recommend are ineffective at achieving substantial weight loss and sustained ideal weight, even these recommendations are generally worthless. Typical diabetes care focuses on general glucose control, by monitoring blood glucose to determine when it is necessary to change insulin dosages and when glucose-lowering medication is warranted.

Here is a policy statement from a physician organization dictating diabetic care: "It is nearly impossible to take very obese people and get them to lose significant weight. So, rather than specifying an amount of weight loss, we are targeting metabolic control." This is doublespeak for—"Our recommended diets don't work, so we just give medications and watch patients deteriorate."

Most effective approach
How can diabetics safely lower the high glucose levels that are slowly destroying their bodies? How can they lower their lipids and blood pressure, lose weight, and avoid taking dangerous drugs, such as insulin and sulfonylureas? They need to adopt a diet based on nutritional excellence.

Fortunately, the best diet for good health and longevity is also the best diet for diabetics. It is a diet with a high nutrient per calorie ratio, as carefully described in my book, Eat To Live. When you eat a diet consisting predominantly of nature's perfect foods—green vegetables, beans, eggplant, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, garlic, raw nuts and seeds, and limited amounts of fresh fruit, it becomes relatively easy to eat as much as you want and still lose your excess weight. In my experience, those who follow my nutritional recommendations find that their diabetes disappears astonishingly fast, even before most of their excess weight melts away.

Predictable success
I have achieved marked success with diabetic patients and the success at becoming "non diabetic" or almost "non-diabetic" regularly occurs on the Eat To Live program whether the patient follows a strict vegan diet or not. I describe the diet-style as a "vegetable-based" diet because the base of the pyramid is vegetables, not grains. Even though most animal products are excluded, it is not necessary to adopt a completely vegan diet to achieve the goals.

I offer patients the choice of adding two servings a week of low-fat fish, such as tilapia, flounder, sole, and scrod, as well as an egg-white omelet, once or twice each week. A few servings of very low-saturated-fat animal products each week can be interspersed with the vegan meals without diminishing the results achievable from the vegetable-based diet.
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Nutritional Wisdom: "Don't Control Your Diabetes - Get Rid of It!"

Dr. Fuhrman’s radio show Nutritional Wisdom airs live Wednesdays at 11am EST with an encore presentation Thursdays at 3pm EST on VoiceAmerica. Here’s a peek at this week’s episode:

Diabetes doesn’t have to be a lifelong illness! With a growing nationwide epidemic, Dr. Fuhrman offers the solution to set you free of illness and medications. This show is not for everyone but if you want to understand how to avoid and reverse diabetes, then tune in.

Check out the Nutritional Wisdom category for previous episodes.


Podcast: Hilary Lipman Beats Diabetes with Diet

A diagnosis of type II diabetes is scary to anyone. Hilary Lipman wasn't happy about it when she got the news. But she was hardly paralyzed with fear. Instead she jumped into action. She took a class on what to eat. She read a lot of books. She made radical changes in what she eats. She started walking and exercising religiously. Before long, her doctor took her off the pills (glucophage) she had been taking. And now, according to the highly regarded hemoglobin A1c test (now it's 5.3), she essentially does not have diabetes anymore—a finding that is confirmed by her regular finger-prick tests. In addition, she has lost weight, improved her overall health, and improved her outlook.

Listen as Hilary Lipman tells how she beat diabetes in her own words.

Health Points: Tuesday

  • Did you hear about the E. coli outbreak in New Jersey? No? Well I live in Jersey, and I can tell you—it’s all over the news! So if you haven’t heard about it, Chris Newmarker of the Associated Press will fill you in:
Authorities were still trying to determine how and where the victims became infected over the past two weeks. At least 11 of them ate at a Taco Bell restaurant in South Plainfield, and authorities were expected to finish tests on restaurant workers Monday.
I shaped a slice of firm tofu into a tiger's head, then fried it in a bit of oil until it turned golden brown. The tiger stripes are bits of nori seaweed cut with scissors; the face is more nori cut out with a "happy face" paper punch. The tiger sits on a bed of rice, and up above you can see a plastic squirting fish filled with soy sauce.
Outdoor clothing company L.L. Bean, Inc. shuts down its manufacturing line three times a day for mandatory five-minute stretches, designed to prevent the most common injuries the workers suffer…

…After L.L. Bean increased the price for burgers and lowered the price for salads in its cafeteria fruit and salad bar purchases doubled while French fry and burger sales fell by half.
  • Honestly, I thought a Kiwano was the type of robe people in Japan wear. Not so. FatFree Vegan Kitchen shares her take on this freakish looking fruit:
When you cut open a kiwano, you find that it's attractive even on the inside, a bright green color with lots of nicely formed seeds. But when you try to remove the "fruit" from the shell you discover that it's just a gelatinous mass and that those seeds are too tough to eat. Taste it and you find that it tastes decidedly "green"--not bad, really, but not good either. And the one I bought wasn't sweet at all.
  • Do we have any readers from Minnesota? If so, take a bow because according to the Associated Press your state is the healthiest in the country. You’ve topped United Health Foundation rankings for the fourth straight year—congratulations! Frederic J. Frommer has more:
Minnesota, which has held the top spot in 11 of the 17 years of the survey, was cited for, among other things, its low rate of uninsured (8.4 percent), low percentage of children in poverty (10 percent), and low infant mortality rate (5.1 deaths per 1,000 live births).
  • Something that really amazes me is fast food restaurants in hospitals. I don’t know. It just doesn’t put the vibe out there that Americans are serious about health. “Hey guys! Since my triple-bypass was a success, let’s celebrate with a cheeseburger and fries!” According Robert Preidt of HealthDay News some health researchers share this concern:
"At a time when obesity has become the most common, critical medical condition of childhood and consumption of fast food is widely considered to be a major contributor to this epidemic, the location of such restaurants in pediatric health care facilities promotes dietary choices that are contrary to the desired messages and established recommendations of our profession," lead researcher and pediatrician Dr. Hannah Sahud, of Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, said in a prepared statement.
  • Ever wonder what doctors would be if they weren’t doctors? Well UroStream has decided that if she wasn’t taking care of people, she’d be a restaurant critic. Sounds like a good premise for a sitcom. Urologist by day, restaurant connoisseur by night—I just hope she washes her hands. Here’s her story:
But I've thought this over, and I've finally reached my dream alternative career choice: restaurant critic. I mean, I love food, I have an adventuresome yet discriminating palate, I like to write, and I eat out a lot. If I could get paid to do this, it would indeed be my ideal job.
Early results suggest some compounds in mangoes work by activating or inhibiting groups of receptors known as peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors, or PPARs. PPARs play a role in cellular metabolism. The findings of this study could present positive nutritional health benefits for diabetes and high cholesterol. Furthermore, preliminary findings also suggest that mango skin, often a component of mango juice, is particularly rich in these compounds.

Double Diabetes?

Yeah, it might sound crazy, but according Dennis Thompson of HealthDay News, the diabetes epidemic in this country is so out of control that doctors are beginning to see patients with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. They’re calling it “Double Diabetes.” Here’s more:
An estimated 20.8 million Americans -- or 7 percent of the population -- are now believed to be diabetic. Of those, 6.2 million people have the disease but don't know it. And that doesn't include the 41million people with pre-diabetes, a condition in which blood-glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes…

…Generally, double-diabetes sufferers will often look as though they have the more common type 2 version because they're overweight. But subsequent blood tests reveal they also have type 1 disease.

Asthma: The Bronx Bomber

I’ve never known that many asthmatics, so my familiarity with the condition is minimal. But until I read Disease-Proof Your Child I didn’t realize that asthma is another condition that can be treated with superior nutrition. Like many Americans I thought it was just one of those things you’re born with and can’t really do much about. Not so according to Dr. Fuhrman:
Allergies and asthma are often a reaction to inhaling substances such as pollen, house dust, and cat hair, or the hyperactivity of the airways may be triggered by infections, chemical irritants, exercise, and even emotions. In virtually every case, there is an underlying abnormality—an excessive irritability of the airways that leads to inflammation and narrowing of the airways.

It is always prudent to avoid and remove things that are known to trigger a reaction in a sensitive child, but what is most important, but rarely even considered, is why an individual is so hypersensitive or allergic to begin with. Learning why a person has allergies or asthma makes it possible to take steps to improve and reverse this common chronic condition.
So, why do I bring this up? Well a couple days ago The New York Daily News ran a rather startling article. Apparently the Bronx is a hotbed of childhood asthma attacks, despite the overall decline in the number of kids being hospitalized for asthma citywide. Lisa L. Colangelo has more:
The overall hospitalization rate for the city decreased last year from 6.5 per 1,000 children to 5.4 per 1,000, according to a recent Health Department study. But the Bronx rate was 8.9 per 1,000, and the numbers in three Bronx neighborhoods were higher still…

…Similar high numbers were found in low-income neighborhoods around the city.
Now, I’m no detective, but maybe these low-income neighborhoods have something to do with it. This excerpt from Disease-Proof Your Child might leave you feeling the same way:
The occurrence of asthma and allergies is also related to lifestyle factors and dietary patterns. Genetics play a role, but not the major role. Children’s growing bodies and dividing cells make them more susceptible to damage, but there is an up side, too. Their growing bodies are also more malleable and can make dramatic recoveries from serious diseases such as asthma easier than an adult’s can, when a program of superior nutrition is adopted.

Certainly, living in an urban area around pollution is an important contributor. Non-dietary risk factors include exposure to day care before four months of age, and exposure to wood smoke, oil smoke, or exhaust anytime from birth to age five all increase asthma risk by 50 percent.1 But nutritional influences are also powerfully linked and appear again and again in multiple scientific studies. One important risk for the development of allergies and asthma is lack of breast-feeding and high dietary ration of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids.2 Animal products (except for fish) are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, while flax seeds and walnuts are rich plant sources of omega-3 fats. This same inadequate dietary fatty acid pattern in mother’s diet during pregnancy has also been shown in scientific trial to beget a higher number of allergic and asthmatic children.3
This report reminded me of January's New York Times investigation of diabetes in Manhattan . Check it out and let me know if you see some similarities too.
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